Planned Parenthood Centers Received Coronavirus Funding. GOP Senators Claim That Was Illegal

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • The Planned Parenthood Federation of America confirmed that some of the organization’s affiliates received coronavirus funding. 
  • GOP lawmakers said that this violates rules of the pandemic stimulus package, and that Planned Parenthood was well aware of in a Thursday letter to the Department of Justice. 
  • “It was also well-publicized at the time that the CARES Act did not allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to utilize these loans,” the senators said in a letter. 

Planned Parenthood said that its affiliates appropriately received coronavirus funding, but Republican lawmakers argue that the loans violate the requirements of the pandemic stimulus package.

The nation’s largest abortion provider came under fire after Fox News’ Tucker Carlson reported Tuesday that 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates applied for and received a total of $80 million in coronavirus funding.

A Wednesday statement from Planned Parenthood Federation of America confirmed that “some independent Planned Parenthood 501(c)(3) organizations applied for and were awarded loans under the eligibility rules established by the CARES Act and the Small Business Administration (SBA), which they met.”

The statement did not say how many Planned Parenthood affiliates received loans.

Planned Parenthood’s claim that the affiliates were awarded loans under the CARES Act and SBA eligibility rules clashes with a Thursday letter from Republican senators to the Department of Justice. The letter accused Planned Parenthood of applying for and receiving the loans despite knowing the organization was ineligible. (RELATED: Senators Urge DOJ To Investigate Planned Parenthood For Taking Coronavirus Funding)

“These Planned Parenthood entities self-certified eligibility for these loans despite the clear ineligibility under the statutory text of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020,” the senators, led by Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, told the DOJ in the letter. “It was also well-publicized at the time that the CARES Act did not allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to utilize these loans.”

The senators said there are caps on the number of employees organizations with a governance and affiliation structure like Planned Parenthood can have and still be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Planned Parenthood exceeds those caps, the senators said.

“Trump administration officials were also quoted in public reports, explicitly clarifying that the SBA’s interim final rule ensured that no funds from the Paycheck Protection Program could go to Planned Parenthood,” the letter added.

The senators asked Attorney General William Barr to open an investigation into the matter.

“We have received and are reviewing the letter,” a DOJ spokesperson told the DCNF.

Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines, one of 27 senators who signed the letter, told the DCNF Thursday evening that Planned Parenthood is not eligible for the PPP and that “the funds they wrongfully took must be returned.”

“We need an investigation to get to the bottom of this and hold Planned Parenthood accountable,” Daines told the DCNF. “These critical relief funds are meant for supporting our struggling small business owners and workers not the nation’s largest abortion business, which sits on almost $2 billion in assets.”

The SBA declined to comment for this story.

Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy Jaqueline Ayers denounced criticism of the organization in a statement provided Thursday to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Ayers said that Planned Parenthood believes the affiliates were eligible for the funding in question, and that Planned Parenthood health centers play pivotal roles, particularly during the pandemic. (RELATED: Planned Parenthood Will Receive Zero Coronavirus Aid, Trump Admin Official Says)

“And just like other nonprofits and health care providers, this pandemic has had a significant impact on Planned Parenthood health centers’ ability to provide care,” Ayers said. “Paycheck Protection Program loans have ensured health centers can retain staff and continue to provide patients with essential, time-sensitive sexual and reproductive health care during this crisis.”

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund previously issued a March 25 statement on the CARES Act in which the organization critiqued the legislation.

“The bill gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates and other non-profits serving people with low incomes and deny them benefits under the new small business loan program,” the organization’s action arm said in the statement.

Ayers said that outrage over Planned Parenthood affiliates receiving funding has “nothing to do with Planned Parenthood health care organizations’ eligibility for COVID-19 relief efforts, and everything to do with the Trump administration using a public health crisis to advance a political agenda and distract from their own failures in protecting the American public from the spread of COVID-19.”

“It is also just the latest salvo in the Trump administration’s long history of targeting Planned Parenthood, and trying to severely limit access to sexual and reproductive health care,” Ayers said.

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